As Trump undermines US national security, Mitch McConnell is his loyal ally
It was just one tweet in a long thread about the European Union's attempt to salvage a coherent future with the United Kingdom and its latest unelected Conservative prime minister. BBC Europe editor Katya Adler was making the point that EU leaders don't want the U.K. to crash out of the EU without a negotiated deal, because that would be bad for everyone, and they'd love to find a compromise that necessarily includes resolving what to do about the Irish border. Except that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn't seem interested in negotiating or in finding the most equitable solution to a self-inflicted crisis. And then Adler posted this:
Political leaders - like Merkel or Rutte in NL - very keen indeed that a deal be found. Aware of economic impact of… https://t.co/JeurM8OXPZ— Katya Adler (@Katya Adler) 1567415140.0
It was so casual, so obvious, so taken for granted that it wasn't even cause for a moment's reflection. That's what Trump, Moscow Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party have done to the United States. That's what Trump, Moscow Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party have done to U.S. national security. European leaders no longer consider the United States an ally. European leaders group the occupant of the Oval Office with a hostile foreign despot and desperately hope to prevent the unhinged British prime minister from serving their interests above Europe’s. And nearly two dozen Conservative Party members bucked Johnson, very possibly at the expense of their political careers, in order to protect Britain from its unhinged leader, but Moscow Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party will not do the same to protect the United States from Trump. They're all in. Not just compliant, but fully complicit.
For the moment, at least, Vladimir Putin has won. The West is split, maybe even irrevocably shattered. There no longer is an alliance of democratic nations opposing despotism. Putin's attacks on democracy itself are succeeding. Because Donald Trump is his tool, Moscow Mitch McConnell is Trump’s wingman, and the Republican Party is their instrument. They are attacking the United States in broad daylight, weakening it from without, and tearing it apart within. Trump, Moscow Mitch, and the Republicans aren't just enabling it, but they are also participating. Openly. With a wink and a nod and the predictably baffled acquiescence of the most prominent media outlets. Stories are reported, blame is apportioned to both sides, and the news cycles spin on while the larger context is largely ignored. It's been hiding in plain sight for years.
Even before the 2016 election, the FBI was warning the Trump campaign that Russia would try to infiltrate it, but of course the Trump campaign already knew that: It welcomed it. And after the election, it didn’t waste any time. During the hectic months of transition, Trump's feckless son-in-law tried to open a secret back channel to Russia that would remain hidden from agencies of U.S. national security.
And even when this was reported, Moscow Mitch McConnell did nothing.
Trump began his term in Washington ignoring U.S. intelligence warnings about Putin while openly courting and fawning over him. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for allowing investigations into his ties with Russia, brilliantly admitted it during a television interview, and even bragged about it to Russian officials, right in the Oval Office. The FBI had good cause to wonder if Trump was acting as a Russian asset, and opened an investigation.
And Moscow Mitch McConnell did nothing.
Trump held secret off-the-record meetings with Putin, defied sanctions to allow Russia's top spy back into the U.S., and generally made a mockery of efforts to curtail Russia's attacks on the U.S. His public acceptance of Putin’s denials about those attacks, in direct contradiction of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions, has shocked the world. But it’s no longer shocking anymore that all efforts to protect the U.S. from Russian attacks took place despite Trump, not with his guidance. In fact, Trump openly admits he would accept campaign help from Russia.
And still, Moscow Mitch McConnell does nothing.
Every step of the way, Trump has behaved as if he were a Russian asset, if not a Russian agent. His entire foreign policy seems designed to further the interests of Putin, often at the expense of the interests of the U.S. When he reveals classified intelligence to Russian officials, or publicly exposes classified spy capabilities, it seems less and less accidental, and more and more as if he just doesn’t care. And traditional U.S. allies have been warned and are themselves wary about sharing their own intel with Trump.
None of this is normal. None of this would pass muster with any other resident of the White House. But Moscow Mitch McConnell does nothing.
Trump’s affinity for Putin and other foreign despots raises many questions, but the affinity itself is beyond dispute. And it is further revealed and exacerbated by his disdain for and unprecedented ability to offend and alienate the U.S.’ traditional allies. All of which helps Putin achieve one of his greatest goals. At last month’s G-7 meetings, Trump once again so thoroughly went to the mat for Putin that it proved the most contentious aspect of his typically divisive and unhinged behavior on the world stage. Behind the scenes, U.S. intelligence officials were left wondering whether he is Putin’s “Russian asset” or his “useful idiot.”
And Moscow Mitch McConnell did nothing.
Moscow Mitch doesn’t like his new nickname. He’s been called a lot of names during his long, toxic political career, but this one, for some reason, particularly grates—because it hits too close to home. He insists that it’s McCarthyism, and that he’s a longtime Cold Warrior, but that conveniently ignores how dramatically different the new Cold War is from the previous one. Vladimir Putin is not red. He is not communist. He is not socialist. Like the Soviets, and the tsars before them, Putin is a brutal autocrat, but he has no apparent political ideology other than Russian nationalism and kleptocracism. And while Moscow Mitch may have objected to Soviet Russia, there is little evidence that he objects to Putin’s Russia and its attacks on the United States. Quite the opposite.
He lied about the conclusions of even the redacted version of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, claiming that Trump was exonerated when Mueller himself said Trump wasn’t. Then, just hours after Mueller warned Congress that Russian election interference is ongoing, he blocked two bills on election security. And Republicans on the Federal Election Commission have been playing along, blocking investigations into whether a sanctioned Russian official and a convicted Russian agent used the NRA as a conduit to funnel political donations. And of course, even though the organization was infiltrated at the highest levels by a Russian spy, and has been imploding from internal scandals, Moscow Mitch continues to do the NRA’s bidding in blocking gun regulation as thousands of Americans continue to be slaughtered.
Under Trump, the United States is being undermined from without and torn apart from within. It’s deliberate. And it serves Putin’s ends. And every aspect of it is covered with Moscow Mitch McConnell’s fingerprints. It’s almost as if Moscow Mitch is himself beholden to Putin. Which he may be. After all, in another gift to Putin, Trump removed sanctions on the businesses owned by a Russian oligarch and key Putin ally, with Moscow Mitch playing a key role in stopping the Senate from stopping Trump. And he apparently was rewarded for his efforts:
Within weeks, the U.S. government had formally lifted sanctions on Rusal, citing a deal with the company that reduced the ownership interest of its Kremlin-linked founder, Oleg Deripaska. And three months later, Rusal announced plans for an extraordinary partnership with Bouchard’s company, providing $200 million in capital to buy a 40 percent stake in the new aluminum plant in Ashland, Ky. — a project Gov. Matt Bevin (R) boasted was “as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky.”
Moscow Mitch doesn’t like his new nickname. He doesn’t like that people are catching on. He doesn’t like that he finally is being exposed. The national disaster that is Donald Trump would not be possible without Moscow Mitch McConnell. And when the histories are written, Moscow Mitch will live in infamy to at least the same magnitude as Trump.